I've been doing a lot of research into audio production lately. I have been a subscriber to Future Music magazine for about a year, and a reader for much longer. They often go into very big studios with the biggest names in electronic music and I'm always very interested in what gear the stars are using. While most of this equipment is out of my price range seeing this expensive gear in operation is certainly interesting.
Many producers mix in the box, this definitely has some advantages. When I use Logic 9 I am able to pick up and sit down anywhere and keep working on my compositions. This would not be possible with a large amount of outboard gear, ie if a mixing board was the centre of the studio.
By not using anything other than a DAW and plugins you have the total freedom to set up your studio wherever you desire. With all the long flights DJ's and touring acts are doing this can give them all the tools they need to record.
The disadvantage of the mobile studio is the lack of proper acoustics, possibly limiting you to headphone only monitoring. I'm a big believer that the acoustics of the room influence a track tremendously. It's vital to stay with consistent acoustics, specially when learning how to produce music. Headphones just don't cut it for me, but maybe I haven't found the right set yet. . .
In terms of mixing in the desk, this technique certainly has come a long way from the old days of giant consoles. The nicest package that I've seen is the SSL X-rack system. Apparently the guys from Swedish House Mafia are using this in their own studios. If the Swedish House Mafia are using this gear, it's got to be at least a little bit legendary too, no?
Similar to the API Lunchbox system, this is basically a modular audio processing tool kit that can be configured in any way the user needs. While my own needs for a console would probably never exceed 4 or so channel strips, this rack kit could probably fulfil the duty of a big mixing desk while taking up a quarter of the space (and a quarter of the price too . .)
These guys aren't cheap, a fully loaded Xrack would cost me about $5000-6000 for my needs but it would give me the SSL sound at a bargain price, without any compromise in audio fidelity.
So what do you think is better, mixing in the box or in the desk?